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Historic England Research Records

Ewyas Harold Castle

Hob Uid: 105610
Location :
County of Herefordshire
Ewyas Harold
Grid Ref : SO3846028760
Summary : Remains of Ewyas Harold Castle, a motte and bailey castle located above the valley of the Dulas Brook, one of a number of medieval defensive sites located along the Golden Valley and adjacent Marches valleys. The earliest defence was probably built in 1048 and identified as Osbern Pentecosts castle of 1052 and recorded in the Domesday survey. The castle fell into decay in the 14th century although it was regarrisoned in 1402. John Leland recorded in 1530 that a great deal of the castle was still standing but by 1645 Royalist Richard Simmonds reported that it was no longer standing. The motte measures up to 15 metres high and 75 metres around the base. It is separated from the bailey by a ditch. The kidney-shaped inner bailey is located to the south-east of the motte. St Nicholas' chapel was located within the castle. The priory of St James and St Bartholomew was located in an area of the bailey formerly used as a garden enclosed by a moat. The remains of a water management complex are visible to the south-west of the motte. Scheduled.
More information : (SO 38462876) Ewyas Harold Castle (NR) (Site of). (1)

"A remarkable example of a motte and bailey earthwork".

"A Castle was built here before the Conquest, but this was replaced by the Castle of William fitz Osbern before the Domesday Survey". (a).

Motte nearly circular - diameter 74ft & 79ft - & 42ft above bottom of ditch. No ditch between motte and bailey, which is kidney-shaped and probably had its original entrance on N.

"The area to the S. of the bailey has a scarp and bank along its S side and is said to have been the site of the Priory (see SO 32 NE 2)....A second scarp and a sunken track occupy the adjoining field on the W. Condition - Fairly good." Plan. (2)

Visited 15.7.52. As above. A certain amount of damage appears to have been done recently by removal of earth from the bailey. There is some stone scattered around the crest of the motte which may indicate a shell keep, but may equally well be chance boulders in the make up of the mound. (3)

"Ewyas Harold, identified with "Penticost's" castle, was in occupation in 1052. The mound was surrounded by a shell keep, which has been destroyed and the foundations grubbed up". (4)

An approach road to a new house cuts across the main bailey. It seems that the house has been built on what was part of the fosse and counterscarp". (5)

A motte and bailey, situated upon the upper slopes of the
end of a spur between the converging valleys of the Dulas Brook and a minor tributary.

The tree-covered motte, built of stones and clay, stands to an
average height of 10.0 m and has diameters of 74.0 m NW-SE and 64.0 m transversely. The bailey, to the SE, is 120.0 m by 100.0 m in size, and is bounded, except to the NW, by a long steep lynchet-like slope, up to 8.0 m in height. It is cut through in two places by a modern drive and a footpath.

The weak NW side, facing the ridge-top, is covered by a deep ditch around the motte, 12.0 m in width and up to 4.0 m in depth and by an earthen bank along the NW side of the bailey, 12.0 to 18.0 m in width and up to 2.0 m in height. A cut made through it for a drive may be on the site of an original entrance, as from there, a terrace leads northwards along the side of the ridge.

The summit of the motte has been extensively dug into, apparently for the stones used in its construction. No visible remains of building foundations of any kind could be traced.
Published 1:2500 survey revised. (6)

The only known pre-conquest castle in England, its antiquity is established by its Domesday reference only, where it is described as having been rebuilt by William Fitz Osbern, but references in the AS Chronicle to a castle extant 1051-2 may be attributable to this site. The castle was ordered to be held against [Owain] Glendower in 1403.
[See also SO 32 NE 43]. (7)

Additional references. (8-9)

The scheduling includes the remains of the Ewyas Harold Castle, a motte and bailey castle and alien Priory of St James and St Bartholomew located on a natural eminence above the valley of the Dulas Brook and one of a number of Medieval defensive sites located along the Golden Valley and adjacent Marches valleys. Believed to have been constructed prior to the Norman Conquest probably in 1048 and identified as Osbern Pentecosts castle of 1052 and recorded in the Domesday survey. Lands were held by Harold Godwinson and Ralph of the Vexin. William Fitz Osbern remodelled the castle and granted it to Alfred de Marlborough. Lands later reverted to Harold son of Ralph who founded the priory in 1100. The lands were later owned by Robert son of Harold who was a renkowned castle builder and founded Dore Abbey in 1147 and Robert grandson of Harold who was killed in a nearby skirmish in 1198. The castle fell into decay in the 14th century although it was regarrisoned in 1402. John Leland recorded in 1530 that a great deal of the castle was still standing but by 1645 Royalist Richard Simmonds reported that it was no longer standing. The motte measures up to 15 metres high and 75 metres around the base. It is separated from the bailey by a ditch. The kidney shaped inner bailey is located to the south east of the motte and there are traces of a further outer rampart defining the course of an outer bailey believed to be the site of the early priory which was linked to the abbey at Gloucester. This area of the bailey had formerly been a garden enclosed by a moat which also acted as a fishery. Also recorded is the existence of a shell keep on top of the motte, although this feature is no longer visible. To the south west of the motte are the remains of a water management complex including a fishpond.(10)

Additional reference. (11)

Additional refernce and photograph. (12)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1905
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire. Volume I: south-west
Source details : Monument 2
Page(s) : 63
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH scheduling amendment 18-SEP-2000
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : A guide to castles and moated sites in Herefordshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 104-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : vol.2
Source Number : 2a
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Hereford, volume one
Source details : sketch plan
Page(s) : 237-238
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ALFR 22-JUL-52
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details : Published in 1953
Page(s) : 39-40
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club Archaeological Research Section Hereford News
Source details : Section 3 April 1967 3
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 ASP 30-AUG-72
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details : 1983
Page(s) : 205, 215-216
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 8
Source : A guide to Anglo-Saxon sites
Source details : 1982 photo
Page(s) : 96-98
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Medieval military architecture in England. Volume 2
Source details : 1884
Page(s) : 39-43
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : built in 1048
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1048
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey, Shell Keep, Fishpond, Domestic Chapel
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Held in 1403
Monument End Date : 1403
Monument Start Date : 1403
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HE 16
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 30079
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 32 NE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 105615
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 105673
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 32 NE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1952-07-22
End Date : 1952-07-22
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 32 NE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1972-08-30
End Date : 1972-08-30
Associated Activities : Primary, EWYAS HAROLD CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, EWYAS HAROLD CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, EWYAS HAROLD PRIORY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, EWYAS HAROLD CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31